filing the fafsa online

Posted : January 3, 2005
Last Updated : December 18, 2015
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filing the fafsa online

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be completed by students applying for federal student aid. The FAFSA is also used by many states and colleges to determine a student's aid eligibility. It can be completed online at www.fafsa.ed.gov as soon as possible after January 1st of the year for which you are requesting aid. It is crucial to submit the FAFSA in a timely manner, so you can meet deadlines for school, state, and private aid. Many of these deadlines are in early February. (Please note: Students will be able to file a 2017–18 FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, 2016, rather than beginning on Jan. 1, 2017. The earlier submission date will be a permanent change, enabling students to complete and submit a FAFSA as early as October 1 every year. There is no change to the 2016–17 schedule, when the FAFSA will be available January 1 as in previous years.) Filing the FAFSA online will help you meet the deadlines because FAFSA on the Web saves you processing time and increases the accuracy of your application.

The FAFSA on the Web site will guide you through all phases of the application process. After you log in using your name, Social Security number, and date of birth, FAFSA on the Web determines where to direct you based on your application status and what you need to do next. Dynamic messages will guide you on the correct path that is determined by your login infomation and available processing results.

Benefits of Completing the FAFSA on the Web

  • Electronic filing can be as much as 7 to 14 days faster than submitting the paper version. Hint: Be sure to submit the FAFSA for free at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Some websites with similar names will charge a fee to submit your application. 
  • Online help is available for each question.
  • FAFSA on the Web has an automatic edit check that finds errors on your application and prompts you to fix them.
  • Calculations are performed automatically.
  • After you complete the FAFSA online, you will get a confirmation number that proves you submitted the application.
  • If you submit the FAFSA online, you can easily check the status of your submitted FAFSA, view or print processed results, correct FAFSA information, print signature pages, or review and update correction history.

What to Know When Completing the FAFSA on the Web

  • You will need an FSA ID. An FSA ID is required to sign the online application. On May 10, 2015, the U.S. Department of Education replaced the Federal Student Aid PIN with the FSA ID in order to increase security for users. If you haven't logged into a Federal Student Aid site (such as fafsa.gov) since this date, you will need to create an FSA ID before you can log in going forward.
  • One parent should also create an FSA ID. This is for students who are required to submit parental information. You and your parent may not share an FSA ID, as it serves as a signature and must be unique to each person.
  • If you filed a FAFSA last year, you can complete the online Renewal FAFSA. After you log in to FAFSA on the Web, a FAFSA Renewal button will display if you submitted a previous year FAFSA and are eligible to file a FAFSA Renewal. A FAFSA Renewal application has some of the information pre-filled from the previous year FAFSA you submitted. You will still have to provide financial information and your school codes.

If you are having trouble filling out the FAFSA, please contact someone in a college financial aid office or the U.S. Department of Education at 1-800-4-FED-AID.


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